For those of you still lamenting the loss of GOOD, we caught up with a few of its fired editors who talked about their new project on the horizon and how GOOD is poised to become more like Reddit and less like a magazine.
We spoke with GOOD's ex-managing editor Megan Greenwell, ex-lifestyle editor Amanda Hess, and ex-associate editor Nona Willis Aronowitz, as well as some other sources who declined to be named to hear their take of what actually went down and where things go from here.
Update: Shortly after we published this post, a tipster forwarded us the company-wide email that GOOD founder Ben Goldhirsh sent out on Monday to explain what was going on in the company. The whole thing is below, but to our eyes, he seems to want to emphasize that getting rid of an editorial team is by choice (not financial circumstances). But he also portends that GOOD is changing its "fundamental strategy" away from publishing something like the edited journalism it had been producing. Here's the whole thing.
it's monday. about to head out to Sustainable Brands. but wanted to engage all after I spoke to a few folks individually who raised some thoughts/questions/concerns about what occurred last week. namely, was the company in any sort of trouble/should they worry about their jobs, and were these decisions made with deliberation. On the first matter, wanted to give everyone the heads up that we're doing well. We're profitable through the first half of the year, and this is probably one of the first times in the company's history where layoffs were made not because of financial pressure, but for strategic reasons. And this brings me to the second question on deliberation. Layoffs are a really tough call to make. And frankly, it's easier to make them when financial pressure is the catalyst. But that wasn't the case here. This was about the direction of the business and the path to manifesting the very exciting potential ahead. Furthermore, this was a decision that was discussed at length, and included the opinions of every team at the company. At the end of the day, the path forward requires some new roles and perspectives, and this meant that some roles got eliminated. While that's hard. It's also right. Right for our business, and frankly right for the folks who are great at those roles, and who deserve to be at a place where those roles are fundamental to strategy. I know Casey is planning to dive into the path forward in depth at the coming all-hands, but did want to take the moment now to reach out as digging into it in these individual discussions was valuable and I wanted to share with all. Anyhow, hope you're all doing well. I'm really proud that we made the tough decision here, have put the turmoil behind us, and I'm so stoked about all that lies ahead. Hopefully you are as well, and definitely feel free to reach out to me if you ever want to discuss.
So where are they now?
This is probably the news fans of GOOD and media gazers want first. And we're more than happy to tell you that GOOD's editors will be working together to bring you Tomorrow (working title) magazine. Apparently the fired editors got together in Los Angeles on Monday night and (expect the announcement later today) and came up with the idea to band together one more (we're not saying last) time. "Our idea is to publish a single issue of our dream magazine," said Greenwell. "We've never done our absolute best."
The editorial focus is still being worked out. Greenwell adds that the project will probably start on the fundraising site Kickstarter in the next week or so. "It might be the last thing we do together or it won't be, but it will be a lot of fun," said Hess.
"It's not for revenge, it's just to realize that we still wanna do something and have one last hurrah together," said Aronowitz. "Maybe not even a last hurrah maybe more."
Update: 5:14 p.m. EDT - Well, it looks like the ex-GOOD team delivered on their promise. Here's the beginnings of Tomorrow magazine, in tumblr form. The editors write:
So we’d like to make at least one more magazine together. Not an issue of GOOD—something different. We’re calling it Tomorrow. It’s going to be about what’s next, what’s on the cusp. We want to get out of our comfort zone and push others to do the same. We want to meet and introduce you to great people. We’ll have more details soon, so check back here later this week.
Fired or laid off?
Did anyone see this coming?
Sort of...maybe...yes. If you remember, we reported that the editorial team was fired the day after the latest issue's launch party, but talking to staffers we're getting the impression that GOOD's creative director Casey Caplowe showed his hand and requested Friday's meeting on Thursday afternoon. And with GOOD being a small office, the fired staffers eventually started putting two and two together, so by party time they were in the mood to party hard. When Friday came, we were told that the firing was done Up in The Air-style with staffers called into meetings one-by-one, handed severance packages in white envelopes, and had to erase/logout of their computers while being supervised. Strange for a crunchy place like GOOD right?
But big picture-wise, did they know?
"We've been prepared in some sense for losing our jobs," said Greenwell, who cited the move toward's GOOD burgeoning beta site and a newly formed team for that site as the proverbial writing on the wall.
Wait what? What beta site?
This one! It's called GOOD Finder. We mentioned it yesterday, but GOOD has been working on making a community-driven beta site where community members pluck, curate, and vote on stories. We still haven't heard back from GOOD founder Ben Goldhirsh. But the remaining GOOD team broke its silence yesterday with a post from Caplowe which promises some "exciting new things." He mentioned projects like Finder and Maker as well as the social network Jumo, which was started by The New Republic's new owner Chris Hughes. He also mentioned the firing of the bulk of the editorial staff.
At the same time, we've had to make some big and difficult decisions, perhaps the biggest and most difficult of which involved letting several members of our editorial team go last Friday. These were great people who contributed a lot to GOOD. We wish them the best and expect that they will do great things.
GOOD has always been a work in progress, and even as creating and spreading awesome content by amazing people will continue to be a critical part of what we do, this was a step we felt was important to take as we pursue a refined strategy to inform, connect, and empower the community of people who give a damn.
And what exactly does all this "community" stuff mean?
Well, for starters, it's something that doesn't involve staffed journalists. We looked at the site, and it looks like a more high-minded version of Reddit. And that's what GOOD's team told Greenwell. She tells us:
There were a lot of meetings that sort of blurred together in my head. I can't remember the exact meeting. There were a lot of meetings where Finder was being introduced and it was being run by the community manager person ... We did what we did. We were posting on Finder [the beta/aggregation/curation site] a bit in the beginning.They told us months ago, "We're not a magazine anymore." Reddit was talked about all the time...and if you understand Reddit, you know it's a free for all. We all expressed doubts. A Reddit not done well will cause people to roll their eyes.
So Greddit, Goodit, Zombie GOOD?
Maybe we're more in love with the idea of GOOD continuing because it was great with those editors at the helm. And hey, more print journalism out there the better, if you ask us. Staffers we talked to say that everyone will now report to Andrew Price, whose most recent title has been senior web editor but current role and title is not clear. But we've heard that the editorial staff may be down to one last person (they were down to three yesterday). With all this Reddit talk, it sounds like another printed issue of GOOD might be a longshot and this new amalgam of Reddit and journalism might be GOOD's vision for the future.
Any Last Takeaways?
We got to work in the absurdly great team, for 10 months I worked with both the best journalists and some of the best friends I will ever have. I think we created this product that was so great. It was so easy to go into my meeting with Casey head held high.
Obviously it sucks to not have a job. We always love our parties and they're really fun. The timing was not a major issue. The main issue for me to do right by the freelancers [and get them] paid.